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Showing posts from October, 2007

Big Oil “Can’t Afford” to Pay Taxes Like the Rest of Us

Those Poor Big Oils

Here are excerpts from two news items in yesterday and today's Wall Street Journal (still my favorite newspaper, but I'm worried).

Rangel Proposes Cuts
In Tax Overhaul Bill

"... Companies that us and accounting method known as last-in, first-out to value their inventories for tax and financial-reporting purposes would be required to shift to a new method -- a move that likely would result in a higher tax bill in many cases.

The elimination of last-in, First-out, or Lifo, would hit big oil companies and some manufacturing and retail firms. Lifo allows the value of goods held in inventory to be recorded at current prices, which reduces the taxable gain."

[In other words: Suppose Shell Oil bought a million barrels of OPEC oil for $72 a barrel last year, and now it's worth $90. Shell refines it now. Their "cost" for the raw material can be booked at $90, greatly reducing their taxable profit from the refined product. SD]

"Critics of Li…

Wal-Mart - The Big Ugly (UPDATED)

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Darn it, Wal-Mart... Come ON



I've been grousing about (and resolutely not shopping at) Wal-Mart and Sam's Club for years, mainly for three reasons: (Put "allegedly" in all the legal places below - they don't like criticism.)

1. An early Wal-Mart store wiped out most of the local retailers in my small Texas home town.

2. Their treatment of suppliers has been vicious - becoming a small manufacturer's biggest client, then grinding down their prices by threatening to quit buying. Then - ultimately - taking their purchase of the product offshore, occasionally using the original U.S. supplier's design to define the outsourced product.

3. Their treatment of their own employees has been rough, too. Avoiding medical benefits by manipulating hours to keep a high percentage of their workers "part-time," thus ineligible, for instance.

BUT THERE HAVE BEEN SOME "IMPROVEMENTS"

Maybe. It's hard to know whether the better health care plan we read…

Fresh Water Fright

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We Need a Really BIG Plan

Water, water nowhere. Speaking of Fright Night, imagine how bad it could get and how fast. Turn on the tap and get a dribble. Short, cold showers. Brown, crispy grass. Very dirty cars. Dirty clothes/dishes. Not to mention famine and giant forest fires.

Rent a copy of Soylent Green. Note that one minor note in it's symphony of a dystopic future (2022) is a scary fresh water shortage. It's even scarier than the movie's main theme.

I strongly believe - probably since I live in the western U.S. - that the most immediate threat of global warming is megadrought. Snowpacks are shrinking as fast as the North Pole sea ice. That means dry streams, rivers and reservoirs out here. And surely you've heard about what's happening in the normally wet southeastern U.S.

The New York Times Sunday Magazine today (10.21.07) has a blockbuster piece on the subject called The Future is Drying Up. [You have to "subscribe" to read it, but it'…

Ayn Rand Ridiculousness

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Nobody Considers What the Brain Surgeon Wants

* I have a Libertarian pal who sends me stuff from the Ayn Rand Institute to make his side of our various arguments. They are always good for a giggle in my view. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the latest screed.

Atlas Shrugged and Today's Healthcare Controversy
October 16, 2007"While Atlas is 50 years old, it contains many timeless truths that are just as relevant today as they were when it was first published."Take the realm of health care. Most Republicans and Democrats are proposing forms of socialized medicine--under euphemisms like 'universal health care,' 'national health insurance,' etc. Everyone talks about how to protect patient's 'right' to health care--but no one talks about the rights of the doctors that create this value. This is a deadly evasion that one of the characters in Ayn Rand's novel, Dr. Thomas Hendricks, an eminent surgeon who quits the field, eloquently ex…

Dog On

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A Breed Apart

A friend recently asked me about Airedales. My response was so succinct, I think I'll share it.

Airedales are big (70-90 pounds), curly-coated lovebugs.They were bred originally in Great Britain to catch the various critters in the granaries and on the docks. So they are “self-directed” hunters, i.e. hard to train as pointers, sitters, etc.But, man, can they catch squirrels, chipmunks, and the like.They are very people-centered, loyal and affectionate.Every one of them I’ve met would like to be a lap dog, even at 80 pounds.Oooof.

Jake & Friend

If smitten with Airedale need, check out the Southwest Airedale Rescue site. Read a warm, mushy true Airedale saga right here.

Demon, Demon Burning Bright

I love to quote myself. At least I'm sure of the source.

Back on June 7, 2006 I was in upper umbrage about the demonizers from the right: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Michael Medved, et al. I took a special swipe at the Queen of Queazy Ann Coulter.

Now with her latest spew about Jews, I would like to repeat myself.

The Mother Superior of demonizers on the right is Ann Coulter. Her new book "The Church of Liberalism - Godless" paints all "Libs" with one tar soaked brush. She could have worked for any of the great Demonizers of the past. She would have been a star of the Inquisition or - need I say it - she would have been a fine lieutenant for Joseph Goebbels. She gets the right wing Medal of Honor for slimy propaganda. She is the Big Lie boogie queen.

There, I feel better. If you want to read the whole rant, click this.

Plastics for Obeisity, Cancer and Diabetes - UPDATE

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BPA UPDATE In my first post on this worrisome pollutant that is universal in our "better living through chemistry" environment, I asked, "Do you recognise polycarbonate plastic when you see it?" That's the plastic that leaches out the bad stuff BPA. Here's a picture from the September 29 Science News of some examples.
See anything you might use? What if the current diabetes epidemic, the scourge of fat folks and the stubborn persistence of cancer are all made worse by this handy kind of plastic?

Do you know any kids who look like this?
Poor baby. She's going to have an almost impossible time losing that weight as she grows up IF her obesity was caused by BPA - and there is a distinct chance it was if her mother was exposed during pregnancy.Although the chemical companies are doing all they can to keep us from hearing the bad news about this omnipresent plastic, it is slowly leaking out - so to speak. The latest article in Science News is a good recap …

Small Inventions Make Me Happy

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The Shower Curtain Wonder

I don't really like shower curtains. They are forever sticking to my shoulder or my rump and feeling totally icky in the process. Especially in hotels. Who knows whose shoulders and rumps have left their spore on that slimy plastic?

Someone read my mind.


Can you tell how this shower curtain is bowing out? At shoulder and rump level, it's a good three inches outside the edge of the tub, completely out of the way!

That bowed piece of metal at the top, a shower curtain rod for the 21st century, holds the curtain well away from contact. It's all made possible by the simplest technology.

A small block of aluminum with a slot for the bar. Made in Taiwan, surprise!

The modest traveler's hotel Days Inn in Glendale, CA has these. Maybe the whole chain has them by now. My personal thanks to the genius who thought this was worth doing. I'm now a loyal customer because of it.